GP practices have been placed at the centre of a major drive to register refugees and migrants on the NHS organised by the Mayor of London.
The Mayor has issued an online guide in 20 languages encouraging ‘overseas visitors’ to register with GPs and advising them that they do not need to prove their immigration status in order to do so.
The move has been backed by the RCGP and comes after PCTs were encouraged to target immigrants in order to meet brutal new list cleansing targets next year.
The online guide, ‘How can I get medical help in London?’ tells prospective patients that they need no documents to register with a GP, and that practices can only refuse to register patients if the PCT has agreed that they can close their list, or on other ‘reasonable grounds’.
The booklet states: ‘Overseas visitors do not legally have to prove their identity or immigration status to register with a practice.’
The booklet was criticised by campaign group Migration Watch, whose chairman, Sir Andrew Green, called on Mr Johnson to withdraw it.
But Dr Jonty Heaversedge, a GP in Kennington, south east London, said the booklet’s advice could prove useful to people unsure of how the GP system worked.
‘The challenge on the ground is trying to identify who is and isn’t entitled to primary care, when GP receptionists are already very busy,’ he said.
‘But at the same time I wouldn’t want to see barriers put in the way of people who are entitled to care, or make them feel uncomfortable when trying to register.’